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3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

257 days to go...

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cells of blastocyst embedded in uterus

Your baby today

In this computer-generated image the entire blastocyst can be seen embedded in the lining of the uterus. The cells that will develop into the embryo are seen as the dark area in the 12 o'clock position.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle and improving your well-being are sensible measures now that you might be pregnant.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed in the next week or so, you'll find you're bombarded with more health information than ever. Is your diet well balanced? Could you cut back on the amount of salt, sugar, and fast food you eat? Are you eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables, which are a good source of folic acid. Are you exercising enough and safely? Even though you don't know you're pregnant yet, it's worth being aware of the recommended advice and making some basic dietary and lifestyle changes. It's also worth being aware of the early signs of pregnancy so you know what's normal.

If you have a preexisting medical condition or are taking medication, seek medical advice.

The Lowdown

Cultural beliefs

Here's what some cultures believe:

  • Hindu fathers part the hair on their partner's head three times upward from the front to the back to boost the development of the growing baby.
  • In some countries, there is great emphasis placed on protecting the unborn baby. In Thailand, the pregnant woman's abdomen may be painted to ward off evil spirits. It is also believed that giving gifts before the birth will attract evil spirits.

Focus On... Your health

Lifestyle changes

If you smoke, you should quit (so should your partner) for health reasons. Once you're pregnant, not smoking will reduce the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death.

You should also stop drinking alcohol entirely. The current advice from the US Surgeon General is to avoid drinking alcohol completely while trying to get pregnant and once you are pregnant, since there is no known safe consumption level for pregnant women.

woman on prenatal walk

Get gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming, which are ideal before, during, and after pregnancy.

As A Matter Of Fact

There are at least 30 chemicals in cigarette smoke that can adversely affect fertility.

Because smoking reduces the rate at which cells replicate, it may cause most damage during the first days and weeks of pregnancy. In addition to causing fertility problems in women, smoking can have negative effects on sperm and reduce testosterone in men.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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